NEW DELHI: For Indian filmmakers and television broadcasters, trying to figure a way out of the lockdown and resume production, while complying with government guidelines, the arrival of monsoon spells more trouble.
Producers said states like Maharashtra, Kerala receive heavy rains June onwards and thus getting back to business at this time will be lot tougher than anticipated.
"The government can only give instructions but we have to see whether those can be executed. There is forecast of rain in Kerala post June so it remains to be seen whether shoots can resume as normal with safety and hygiene standards in place besides getting top artistes to agree to work," said Mukesh Mehta of Malayalam film production and distribution company E4 Entertainment.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast heavy rains for Kerala for the next few days after the southwest monsoon marked its onset over the Indian coast on Monday. A yellow alert has been sounded in Kollam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Malappuram, Kannur and Kasaragod districts.
Meanwhile, in line with central government guidelines, Kerala has extended the lockdown in containment zones till 30 June but eased curbs in many sectors, including allowing indoor film and television shoots. Movie shoots are permitted with a maximum participation of 50 people and following strict health precautionary measures, while for television shoots up to 25 people will be allowed, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said.
The limited crew size is an additional challenge for filmmakers along with restarting and managing shoots during rains.
The same is true of Maharashtra where guidelines to resume production were issued by the state government late on Sunday.
“The city is heading towards the monsoon season so it would be safer to shoot indoors but we can’t really make changes to our scripts basis these things," said Marathi film producer Akshay Bardapurkar, whose film AB Aani CD that released mid-March had to stop screening within a couple of days as theatres shut in Maharashtra and across the country. His next is a period film that requires much planning and a relatively large cast and crew, difficult to execute at this point.
According to a report by movie website Bollywood Hungama, producers Yash Raj Films have decided to demolish the sets of Akshay Kumar's upcoming period epic Prithviraj that had remained unused in Dahisar, a neighbourhood in northern Mumbai, for over two months before monsoon rains begin in the city. Finding it unfeasible to retain the set any longer, remaining sequences will now be shot indoors once production resumes.
The southwest monsoon is expected to reach Mumbai around 11 June, with experts divided over whether its onset will be impacted by cyclone Nisarga, which became the first pre-monsoon cyclone to hit Maharashtra in 59 years this week.
Further, there are talks that local authorities having recommended shifting of shoots to cities like Kolhapur for a while till the threat of pandemic in the city subsides. But filmmakers do not find that feasible.
“There are so many arrangements and equipment to manage that can be done easily in Mumbai. We can just shift base, at least the Hindi industry will never go," Bardapurkar said.